Courses in the Via Contemplavita

_Cabala: An introduction to a major system of Jewish mysticism, including an examination of its roots in Hellenistic occult science, demonology, numerology, the Tree of Life, the sefirot, and the allegorical interpretation of the Bible. Readings from major cabalists and cabalistic works like Zohar, Baal Shem Tov, Sefir Bahir, SefirYetzirah and Sefer Ha-Etz Chaim are included.

_The Divine Feminine: The Divine Feminine has many faces: Sophia, as Divine Wisdom, the Soul of the World, Mary and all the Goddesses from every culture and religion. She is Wisdom, Harmony and Beauty. She holds the pattern of all that is—the manifest world, nature, seasons, galaxies, the universe. She also hold the patterns of possibility, what can be. The theme of this workshop is about what is emerging, what has never been before. This course considers such questions as: How can we imagine the emerging unknown? How can we be inspired in some way to become a conscious part of that creation? And once we‟ve been show, how do we embody in the manifest world what has been revealed to us? Within sacred space participants work with images, expanded perception practices, writing and small group sharing, to explore what the Divine Feminine wants to reveal. As participants open their spiritual senses they begin to reveal how the Divine Feminine wants to be in our lives, so as to co-create a new way of being in the world.

_Get Your Feminine On! Begin a journey in exploring the aspects of the Divine Feminine in your life. Through movement, dance, spontaneous writing, guided meditation, and quiet reflection in nature, you can reach down deep inside yourself to find the qualities you are earning to express, qualities that can bring balance to your life and the world. Take a day for yourself with other creative, soulful women in supportive natural setting.

_Gnosticism: A millennia-old form of spirituality, Gnosticism has experienced a reflorescence in the last 50 years, as many ancient texts have been discovered in the Near East. This course uses both primary sources and modern commentary to present the key Gnostic teachings and the secret wisdom that lie at the heart of gnosis. The pervasive influence of Gnosticism on the neo-Platonists, Sufis, Jacob Boehme, the Rosicrucians, Freemasons, and Carl Jung is also considered.

_Introduction to Meditation: This course provides a basic orientation to one of the most essential practices of the spiritual journey. Called “receptive prayer,” “contemplation,” “sitting,” zazen, and “the art of inner listening,” meditation offers manifold benefits to the spiritual seeker. We consider some of the schools of meditation as we work with over a dozen techniques drawn from Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Tibetan and zen traditions. Because the purpose of the course is to equip students with this most valuable tool, the format is much more experiential than intellectual, although some readings are discussed and a lengthy bibliography is provided. The goal is both to inform and to immerse participants in meditation and to encourage the development of a regular, daily practice.

_Introduction to Tibetan Buddhist Meditation: An introduction to Zhinay practice, typically known as “Tranquility” or “Calm Abiding” meditation. Participants learn some of the basic forms of this practice, including appropriate mind/body/emotional attitudes. The philosophical foundations of this practice and Tibetan Buddhism in general are also introduced.

_Mysticism: For all the thousands of years of human history, some peoples in every culture have regarded spiritual insight as the path to the Divine. This course offers an overview of this rich spiritual tradition through readings in the mystics themselves (e.g. Julian of Norwich, Lao Tzu, Rumi, and the Hasidim), supplemented with works by modern experts like Evelyn Underhill. The course includes a practicum component, in which students are encouraged and guided through the processes that support the mystical experience.

_Native American Spirituality: While hundreds of Native American tribes had different languages and customs, their spiritual orientation was very similar. This course examines the major common themes and features of pre -Columbian religions in North American, via readings drawn from historical sources and contemporary Native American authors.

_The Shamanic tradition: The commonalities in worldview and practices of the various forms of shamanism make up the core of this course. From the Arctic to the Andes, from ancient cultures to our current world, shamans share the belief in an ensouled world and the ability to “read sign,” so as to guide their societies and heal others. Readings include both scholarly sources, like The Soul of Shamanism by Daniel Noel, and books by modern shamans like Martín Prechtel.

_Sufi Chi Gong: This course, also known as Heart with Wings Qigong, is a unique Chinese contemplative exercise system. Through individual effort, practitioners build up their health by combining discipline of mind, body and the body‟s “Qi” (vital force). This specific form is Sufi-inspired and focuses on ten planetary energies which, when mastered, provides a balanced and integrated body-mind connection. Once learned, this 20- minute daily practice is an excellent beginning for the serious student of meditation in motion.

_Sufism: Described as “the secret teaching within all religions,” Sufism has been regarded as the mystical form of Islam, which protected it for many centuries. This course examines Sufi history, its secret language and mysteries, as well as some of the famous literature and poetry of renown Sufi masters like Mulla Nasrudin, Jalaluddin Rumi, Omar Khayyam, and Idries Shah.

_Taoism: The three forms of Taoism and the study of Taoist values form the core of this course. Key concepts, like wu wei, alchemical transformation, and Nature-as-model are examined in depth. Readings include primary sources, like the classic Tao Te Ching, as well as works by modern authors who draw upon the holistic wisdom and ecological consciousness of Taoism.

_Wicca: This course examines the resurgence of the ancient mystery religions linked to the Earth Mother, Nature and women‟s power. Key themes in ancient witchcraft and its modern expression will be examined, along with the practices of contemporary practitioners of Wicca.

_Women‟s Spirituality: This course examines current thought on women‟s theology and compares it to traditional theological paradigms. Ancient and modern expressions of women‟s religious and spiritual experience, women authors whose works deal with the spiritual life, and basic instruction in feminist readings will be included. Students will be introduced to a variety of processes that foster the experience of the feminine Divine.

_Working with Mandalas: A contemplative hands-on workshop designed to introduce participants to the powerful spiritual effect that results in the process of crafting a mandala. The various types of mandalas and cross- cultural use of mandalas will be explored, along with the alchemical operations associated with different mandala images. All the tools and media necessary to create mandalas will be provided. Prospective students are advised that, to maximize the benefits of this workshop, considerable time must be devoted to out-of-class homework consisting of creating or coloring an array of mandalas.